The Oklahoma City Thunder do not have fond memories of the last time they tangled with the Memphis Grizzlies — and for good reason.
The Thunder, after all, unceremoniously were ushered into the record books after being on the losing end of a 152-79 shellacking in Memphis on Dec. 2. Oklahoma City’s 73-point loss shattered the NBA record for the largest margin of victory.
The Thunder aim to atone for that performance on Monday night when they visit the Grizzlies.
Oklahoma City enters the tilt with some momentum after snapping a three-game skid in its last contest.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drained a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Thunder a 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Gilgeous-Alexander’s late 3-pointer was his second in a four-night span, but his previous game-tying 3-pointer against New Orleans with 1.4 seconds remaining was trumped by a 61-foot heave by Devonte’ Graham in a 113-110 win by the Pelicans.
“It feels good,” Gilgeous-Alexander said after his last 3-pointer. “It’s almost like this one felt a little bit better after the last one.”
Luguentz Dort scored 29 points in his return from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury. He had a team-high 15 points in the previous encounter with the Grizzlies.
“Lu works extremely hard, extremely disciplined, he plays the game the right way and he gives it his all every time he steps on the floor,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I think when you do those things, good things will happen to you and they’re happening for Lu fast.”
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault credited Dort’s determination at the rim in his improvement.
“He was one of the poorest finishers at his position in the league (last season),” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “And to his credit, he got to work and really has improved.”
The Grizzlies saw their five-game winning streak come to a halt with a 105-100 setback to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Dillon Brooks erupted for a career-high 37 points on 12-of-25 shooting from the floor on Sunday. He previously scored 36 points against Oklahoma City on April 11, 2018.
“He did a phenomenal job,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of Brooks. “… I thought his energy was phenomenal throughout the game; he made great decisions.”
Brooks has scored at least 22 points in each of the last five games overall, however he was limited to a season low-tying 11 versus the Thunder on Dec. 2.
While Brooks excelled, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane struggled on Sunday. Jackson finished with 11 points before fouling out, while Bane made just one of eight attempts from 3-point range.
Memphis fans received a thrill while seeing the return of star Ja Morant … well, to the bench. Morant, who was sporting an orange sweater and jeans, has been sidelined since Nov. 26 with a sprained knee. He also returned from the NBA health and safety protocols.
“He’s getting very close (to returning) and it’s very encouraging,” Jenkins said of Morant, who averages team-best totals in points (24.1) and assists (6.8).
–Field Level Media